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5 top designers ponder what's best underfoot

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Children roller skate into the house, the dogs chase the cat almost daily, while Mom and Dad are thinking about low maintenance and long-lasting weare in every room. Homeowner lifestyle is definitely part of the answer for flooring choices.

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YOU USUALLY HAVE SOME IDEA before you go shopping if you want laminates or wood or carpet. I start out by asking my clients about their lifestyle. Do you have children? Pets? Allergies? This will determine what the right product should be.

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Carpet alone comes in so many different patterns these days. Pattern can be a good choice for high-traffic areas.

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Trends in wood tend to a smooth surface again versus hand-scraped.

Wall-to-wall shag carpeting is very popular right now with younger people — even shag 2 to 3 inches long. It comes in up-to-date colors like purple, dark browns, black, cream and white.

Liz Hyma
Coles Fine Flooring

FLOORING IS SUCH AN ESSENTIAL element of good home design that it requires a careful balance of budget and vision. Flooring must work for the amount of traffic in specific areas of your home, the possibility of spills with smaller children in the house and the level of maintenance you can realistically achieve.

When it comes to your budget, consider not only the initial investment but also the cost of ongoing maintenance to keep the material attractive and to retain its quality.

Do your research among the array of flooring materials such as woods, natural stone, porcelain tile, carpet and high-quality vinyl floors. A budget is reality, but sometimes spending a little more gives you the beautiful look for an improved quality of life.

Tatiana Machado-Rosas, Ckd, Asid Allied Member
Jackson Design & Remodeling
858-633-1311, x25

FLOORING CHOICES can be overwhelming. Hard surfaces like stone and porcelain are good for kitchens, bathrooms and any area around water.

Hardwood flooring works well throughout main living areas, bedrooms and even kitchens. Carpet is better in low-traffic areas such as bedrooms.

The harder species of wood like oak are easier to maintain and more durable. Beware, as very dark stains show every dust particle and pet hair.

Any natural stone requires yearly maintenance and sealing. If the irregularities of pattern in natural stone bothers you, manmade products are a better choice. Porcelain tile is very durable, low-to-zero maintenance and can fit any budget.

To carpet or not is a big question. We like it because it’s soft, easy on the feet and the price is right, but there are negatives. If you want carpet and your budget allows, select a natural fiber such as wool for longevity and sustainability.

Kellie Mccormick, Asid
Bast|Wright Interiors
619-299-5591; 858-551-3216

THE FIRST THING TO CONSIDER in flooring is maintenance. Porcelain is usually the way to go for very little maintenance. With the advancement in natural-stone sealers, there is less risk with staining if you put a limestone or marble floor throughout your home.

Cost is important. Most stone and porcelain products are in the same price range. Their prices vary depending on where they come from and what they are made of. Don’t fall in love with something out of your price range.

Beyond these major considerations, be sure you’re happy with the overall look and feel of the material you choose.

Kelly Gray, Asid Industry Partner
BDG Design Group

FLOORING SUPPORTS the interior design of the home. It literally is the base for everything. Function, your living environment and maintenance are initial considerations. Then the fun begins.

A current favorite of mine is an eco-friendly hardwood that has an oil finish. This also gives you the opportunity to use area rugs for a pop of color in the room.

It can be fun to create a pattern with linoleum in a child’s room, and then add an area rug for color and a soft place to land.

For kitchens and baths, my preference is to use a variety of hard surfaces together, like natural stone, marble, porcelain and glass, to create a showstopper design that stands up to spills and splashes.

Kimberley B. Hansen, ASID Allied Member
Burgess Hansen Design


Six top designers offer holiday ideas

Whether the holidays loom with a specter of mayhem or wash over you with sparkle and warmth, setting down a record of what needs to be done ahead of time adds a sense of peace on earth and good will to all.

PICK A UNIQUE COLOR STORY for your holiday decorating design like warm colors, cool colors, ocean colors or even makeup colors. Stick with one scheme and expand it with several shades and hues of the same colors.

Silver and crystal are always great pop elements to add sparkle and shine. This gives you a modern touch with a glamorous feel.

Esteban Lopez
Esteban Interiors

CHRISTMAS IS THE ONLY HOLIDAY for which we decorate. We focus on the tree and our collection of Nativity scenes. We always have a tall, flocked Nobel fir from Walter Andersen Nursery. The white lights make the tree and room glow and the ornaments sparkle. Prune the tree before it is flocked for a laced and layered silhouette.
We start the holidays with Thanksgiving in Aspen and love to spend Christmas break in Park City, at the Washington School House Hotel. (Ed Note: Paul Allen Design did the interiors of this hotel.)

Paul Allen Wehsener
Shannon Crane Wehsener, Asid
Paul Allen Design

MAKE HOLIDAY DECORATING TIMELESS by mixing old and new. When tradition meets modern, warm and fuzzy memories spill over into the merry future. Instead of red and green, go more unexpected with persimmon and chartreuse.Balance soft against hard textures — felt and reclaimed wood are big this holiday season. Shop at independent local boutiques to find that special something for your holiday décor.

Sean Barnes
Love & Aesthetics

ADD A VINTAGE TOUCH to your giftwrap using sheet music, a brown paper bag stamped with a festive rubber stamp or newsprint. Tie with a knot using mesh or netting and clip on a piece of costume jewelry you’ve found at a garage sale or thrift store.It also is special to give a gift within a gift. Put your gift in an unusual container, a decorative bucket, flowerpot, canvas bag, canister or basket. Add some lovely ribbon, holly, bells or a sprig of greenery along with the gift tag.

Robbie Harbert Maynard, Asid, Cid
Robbie Interiors

MAKE THREE DECISIONS well in advance of the season: pick a sparkle factor, a color scheme and a theme. Choose two main colors, then a glittery silver, shimmery gold or clear sparkle. Themes can be as diverse as “Winter in Montana” or “A Children’s Fantasy.”Provide your holiday guests with small note cards and envelopes of many different colors decorated with cutouts from old vintage cards. Have them write a wish for themselves on one card, a wish for others on another, and put these in different colored envelopes. Hang the envelopes among your other ornaments on the tree for all the guests to open.

Warren Sheets
Warren Sheets Design, Inc.


A FRESH COAT OF PAINT is an easy and inexpensive way to finish the design of a new space or simply to refresh an existing décor. I like to narrow the choices by considering: personal preferences (favorite colors, style of décor); lifestyle (how the space will be used and by whom); physical aspects of the space (lighting and architectural details); and the mood or feeling desired for the room. In a master bedroom you might consider softer, more relaxing colors such as blues and greens. For an active family room, go with more vibrant colors like orange and lime.

A color scheme for a room, and ultimately the entire home, can be formulated from the colors found in a patterned fabric on a chair or sofa, an area rug or a piece of art. Then vary them in value (lightness and darkness) and intensity (brightness or dullness).

Janet Vesterfelt, Design Consultant
Ethan Allen Design Center

YOU MAY LIKE A COLOR from a magazine interior, but is it just the color you like or the surroundings that make the impact? Consider all the variables that affect the color on your walls. Decide on a theme for the room. Flooring and fabrics play a huge role in enhancing a theme so pick these out ahead of time. Assess your lighting situation. Natural light from windows facing north/south will create a cool color whereas windows facing east/west create a warm color. Fluorescent lighting has a tendency to add a green tone to a room. Halogen lighting will give your room a warm glow. Decide whether you want to include stone or wood on your walls. Wainscot, crown molding and baseboards all contribute to the hue, value and saturation of a color.

When you finally pick a color, place three 15-inch-by-15-inch color swatches on the wall in different areas of the room to observe the color in morning, afternoon and evening light. This allows you to determine the right value, saturation and hue.

Beth Lachatié, Allied Member Asid
Portico Paint/Lci Interiors

WHAT COLOR ARE MY WALLS? You may be shocked, but mostly white. This is to offset natural muslin-colored clay walls juxtaposed against magenta silk curtain panels, a Hermes orange custom coffee table and brightly striped chair. White is the best neutral for any color palette. The right white can make or break a space. I use it sparingly in traditional homes. In modern spaces there cannot be enough, which allows for smaller bite-size amounts of brighter hues to shine. There are many shades of white to choose from. It helps if you put your chosen color chips next to the white you are choosing to see if the secondary pigment in it is blue, green, yellow or pink.

White has been used as a safe color but in small spaces it doesn’t necessarily make a space feel larger. White can be sterile or too plain if not paired with colors for contrast. I stay away from warmer palettes in small rooms as they can make it feel smaller. Cooler tones or neutrals can make a room feel larger because the walls recess visually.

Jennifer Guerin, Interior Designer/Color Consultant
Jg Color Studios

I LIKE COLOR BECAUSE IT ENHANCES so many elements of an interior. Color can be bold or it can be soft. Either way, color should be selected and located with great care. Not all spaces need a color accent or the drama created by color.The architecture of a home, the natural and artificial lighting and the shapes within a room must be taken into consideration when contemplating the addition of color. Spanish Colonial Revival architecture with its rounded corners, tile details, arches and wood accents is interesting enough without adding color on the walls.Create drama in a dining room by painting the entire room a strong color, leaving the crown molding, base, casings and doors in white for a crisp accent. Accentuate the architecture in a contemporary home by applying color to certain planes of a room to make it more interesting. A special piece of art can become the focal point of a room if you create a strong color backdrop.

Charlotte Jensen, Fasid, Cid
Charlotte Jensen & Associates

WHEN IT COMES TO color in your rooms, I recommend sourcing inspirational photos from current design magazines or image search on the Internet. Gather images that speak to you and your current décor. Once you’ve got an inspirational theme, you can pull color from the palette of a paint chart that reflects where you want to go. You don’t have to paint every wall in a room to make a drastic difference. Just highlight the feature wall of a room with an accent color. You can repeat that color hue throughout the room with accent pillows, window treatments, artwork or accessories to pull the room together. Keep it simple when you embellish with accents. The eye is always looking for a place to rest. You are on the right track as long as the room feels warm and inviting.

Stephanie Malcolm, Designer
Room By Room

Front Door: Expert Advice
By Phylis Van Doren


Cozy Up

Color and texture are what come to mind along with falling leaves and a chill in the air. Autumn is only a childhood memory if you come from someplace in the East, but the ocean here does have a wintery, silvery sheen, and many of our trees turn deep red and gold.

NOTHING IS COZIER than the warm glow of a fireplace on a cool night. You can easily make your fireplace the room’s focal point. Update it by facing with tile or stone. Silestone slabs or poured concrete are great for a contemporary look. Consider stacking the stone for a rustic appearance. In some cases you can install these materials directly over your existing fireplace. No demolition required.

Another way of giving new life to a fireplace is by adding an interesting mantel. For the lodge feeling use a chunky piece of reclaimed wood.

Don’t feel left out if you don’t have a fireplace. Freestanding electric heaters that give the illusion of a fireplace are inexpensive, plug into a socket or can be built-in to look like a real fireplace. Wall-mounted ethanol fireplaces also are an option.

Deborah Cañedo
Deborah Cañedo Interior Design

WARMING UP THE HOUSE FOR THE fall season is always fun. Take away all the fresh spring colors and change out to darker, warmer colors if the room permits. Instead of the hot orange that worked in the summer, go to a spice color or even rust. Take away the little sisal area rug and replace with a heavily textured shag rug that’s nice to sit on in front of the fireplace.Accessories play a part, too. Take away the clear glass and add ceramic pieces to add bulk. Add a heavy metal flat tray to the coffee table with large candles to warm up the room. Put a bucket of wood next to the fireplace, even if you have a gas log. If you have the space, add panels of draperies on either side of the windows for coziness.

Marsha Paine, ASID, CID
Nettle Creek Interiors

START WITH COLOR. Spicy tangerine re-mains the dominant color, but it’s more saturated and juicier for fall. Don’t forget about other interesting color combinations like pink flambé, ultramarine green or bright chartreuse paired with the new neutral, grey, in all its shades. Autumn favorite colors like chocolate, bronze, gold and mocha help add balance to the more psychedelic hues.When designing your home for the cooler months, it’s important to create an intimate and peaceful atmosphere. Rearranging the furniture provides instant change. Arrange seating in groups that invites communication, which is perfect for all the holiday entertaining. Hang large mirrors where they help reflect light during darker days. Sophisticated textures in textiles, like velvet, velour, Ultra-suede and woven linens, are warm and comfortable. For a personal touch, take a photo with fond memories and enlarge it as a piece of art for the wall.

Tamara Williams
TC WilliamsDesign

THE WORD COZY EVOKES THOUGHTS of happiness and contentment. The scale of a room or house is the first thing that comes to mind. Smaller spaces give that comforting feeling as does a roaring fire, a soft light and a comfortable place to curl up.Layering of items creates that ambi-ence as well like a carpet or plush area rug to soften the space. Furniture that is comfortable for reading, watching a movie or having an intimate chat is important. Fabrics with a nap or soft hand like a cashmere throw helps. Pillows of various sizes allow individuals to adjust the depth of a sofa or chair to conform to their body. They should be down filled so they can give as needed.Window treatments add to the layered effect. They can be sheer to add softness or lined and interlined to add warmth and fullness.Lighting is one of the most important items. Incandescent lamp light brings warmth to a space, whether a floor or table lamp that can be dimmed, or combination of task and soft accent lighting.
Elizabeth Thiele Barkett, ASID
Ross Thiele & Son

COLLECTIONS OF FRESH GOURDS on the table, pumpkins on the porch and sea-sonal plants bring life and color into the home. Once summer flowers die down, I am obsessed with wreaths.

Really cold weather and long, dark nights are good reasons to embrace the warm glow and sweet scents of candle-light. Whether you have votives tucked about on side tables or large hurricanes on a console, long farm table or dining room buffet, the flicker of a little candlelight goes a long way to transforming an ordinary dark evening.

Susie Keeton
Ross Thiele & Son


5 Top Designers pick their favorite chair

The subject this month can be considered subjective, though the baseline for good design should be: function, comfort, quality of materials and beauty of form.

The quintessential modern classic — the Eames lounger and ottoman #670 and 671 — originally designed by Charles Eames and his wife Ray in the late 1940s, and mass-produced by Herman Miller, Inc. in 1956, has got to be my all-time favorite. The Eames chair is the most recognizable and coveted chair in the world.

With its low-slung body upholstered in black leather and expertly crafted molded seat and back of Brazilian rosewood-faced plywood it cradles you in comfort. Still in demand today, it is available in an expanded range of materials. There’s even an all-white version with pearl leather and a white-ash shell to complement lighter, airier interiors.

Janine Thierry Brown, Asid
Janine Brown Interiors/Home Garden Imports

Growing up in Connecticut, our occasional chairs at home were always formal, stiff and velvet (sorry, Mom!). I love the design of the Chase Lounger called Nuevo that comes in solid North American walnut with back and seat in black or grey wool/nylon-blend upholstery. One thing that is so difficult to find is a chair like this that not only looks like a piece of art and sculptural design but one that is comfortable. The two don’t usually go hand in hand.

I have had this Chase chair reupholstered in a nubby orange fabric that is gorgeous. The brighter color plays off the style and curves of the walnut wood. This chair can be featured in your living room leisurely sitting next to the fireplace. It’s also fabulous in a corner of your master bedroom and is handsome enough to sit in your man-cave office. This chair is the perfect combination of art meets comfort and who doesn’t love that?

Michelle Harrison
Michelle Harrison Design

My favorite armchair to incorporate into any room is the classic leather armchair, also known as a club chair. They got this name from their prevalence in gentlemen’s clubs of 19th-century England.

The classic leather armchair today features a poly core cushion wrapped in 100-percent down-proof ticking, a padded tight back, padded arms and exposed hardwood legs that can be stained in a variety of stain colors. Any cushion filled with down will be the most comfortable and luxurious.

Frame construction and quality differs, depending on where you buy. The mark of quality is a frame constructed of select hardwoods with eight-way hand-tied springs.

The scale of this chair is not big, with a typical size around 30-inches wide, 34-inches deep and 34-inches high. The proportions are beautiful. An ottoman can accompany these chairs and then the comfort level goes up several notches.

Cynthia Lambert-Langdon, Allied Member Asid
Ckl Designs

A well-designed chair is a work of art. One of my favorite chairs, and an important one in any home, is a good dining chair. It needs to have great lines and be a sculpture when it is at rest. When company arrives, it needs to be comfortable, sometimes for many hours. The same chair won’t fill all these needs for everyone, but all dining room chairs require these qualities.

Define your style: traditional, contemporary or somewhere in between. Next consider scale: the chair should complement its surroundings. Most important is comfort.

I like the seat to be padded but not too soft. The back needs a comfortable curve with no rungs to cut into your back. You don’t want the back to slant back too much or your guests will wear their food home or have a tired back. Don’t make the chair cover too slick or your guests are apt to slip right off.

Sandra Wagenaar, Asid
Wagenaar Design Group

My favorite chair is a barrel swivel chair by Lee Industries. I’ve used it in at least six clients’ homes and every time they’ve flipped out on how great it is. Sometimes I use a quad (four) of them in front of the fireplace with a sofa at one end. Another application is in an indoor/outdoor room like a sunroom where you can swivel to the inside fireplace or television and then turn around to face the ocean or backyardI’ve used this chair in velvet upholstery, in a cotton/linen fabric and once with a tangerine leather slipcover that was fabulous. The weight of the leather made it hang just right. I’m getting the itch to redo my own home after five years and just might buy myself some.

Kristin Lomauro-Boom, Allied Member Asid
Kristin Lomauro Interior Design

Expert Advice: By Phyllis Van Doren



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Toque Talk


As someone who pays attention to cooking with healthy ingredients, I’ve used amaranth flour. Bernard Guillas, executive chef of The Marine Room in La Jolla, trumps me with the homonymous amaranth flower. He used one to garnish the best crab cake I’ve ever eaten.

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